Did Elizabeth Warren really snub Bernie Sanders' handshake? Here's our frame-by-frame verdict

Did Elizabeth Warren really snub Bernie Sanders' handshake? Here's our frame-by-frame verdict

It's the question everyone is asking about from the Democratic debate: did Elizabeth Warren snub Bernie Sanders?

The two senators vying for the Democratic nomination for president have been sparring over the last few days over comments that Warren alleges Sanders made during a private meeting in 2018.

Warren claims that Sanders said a woman can't win the presidential nomination, whereas he calls any insinuation he said this "ludicrous".

During the debate, things got tense between the one-time political besties, with both refusing to budge from their starkly different versions of events.

Afterwards, Warren approached Sanders to talk with him as other candidates shook hands behind them. A short clip of the exchange has since gone viral, with many people accusing Warren of "snubbing" Sanders' attempt to shake her hand.

But did she really snub him? And who looks good and bad in this messy, awkward feud?

The indy100 team give our verdict on the moment that everyone's talking about.

Sirena Bergman: "It was an accident"

What happened?

My verdict = It was an accident. Fwiw, if it had been a snub, Warren would have been fully within her right to make it, but honestly I see her walking purposefully up to Sanders, so intent on making her point that his outstretched hand was but a peripheral irrelevance to her. She says her piece (she's clearly not happy but who would be after the week she's had) to which Bernie appears to offer a gormless "huh?" in response. He then pulls the U-turn every woman has watched an old straight white dude make – the realisation that he's being challenged, followed immediately by condescension (Sanders is giving strong "calm down dear" vibes as he waves his hands around while Warren just stares him down motionless).

And to complete the full trifecta of privilege-having-a-tantrum behaviour, he ends on anger, taking a step towards Warren, leaning over her, waving his pointed finger in her face, saying what he wants to say and then unilaterally deciding the conversation is over and storming off. Tbh, I don't even care whether or not he said the allegedly sexist thing when this is how he treats a female colleague in front of an actual camera crew.

Who looks good?

It should be Warren, who was the measure of calm and collected. But anyone remember what happened last time an experienced, even-keeled woman ran against an antagonistic, impulsive, irrational man? Yeah...

Who looks bad?

Sanders looks to me like a school bully who's been humiliated in front of the class and is desperately trying to prove he's still the cool kid. Spoiler: He's not – people are feeling the plan over the Bern and I'm here for it.

Louis Staples: "It was a snub"

What happened?

My verdict = it was a snub. I see Warren make a beeline for Sanders as the applause echoes. She’s clearly got something she really wants to tell him – and who among us hasn’t been in that position, when you just want to give that person who you think has lied about you a piece of your mind! Because of this, she's not into his attempt to shake hands. It's a bold move, because she knows there's cameras watching, but she's not going to leave this stage without letting him know what she's thinking. Whatever she says, it seems that Sanders didn’t like it much, as his body language comes off both defensive and a little aggravated. There’s a definite touch of “calm down dear” about his hand gestures, though maybe that’s just how he gesticulates? It's very telling that they didn't shake hands at the end of the conversation and Warren looks pretty angry. But if Bernie islying about this, then can we blame her?

Who looks good?

Tom Steyer, who comes between the pair to end this toe-curling encounter wearing his jazzy tartan tie.

Who looks bad?

Both Warren and Sanders look bad here. Warren probably should have just accepted the handshake – even if it was an accidental snub – and because of this she comes off looking worse. I mean, even Hillary Clinton and Trump shook hands. But Sanders does come across as being a little aggravated in his response. This is a feud that no one wins. Can they stop please? I hate it when mum and dad fight!

Joe Sommerlad: "It was a power play"

What happened?

My verdict = it was a snub – and a power play.

Warren had clearly anticipated this moment coming and had thought it through carefully. She glides towards Bernie after patting Biden on the arm, holding his gaze the whole time. She definitely folds her hand away when he reaches out his. Her body language says: “I won’t shake your hand because I’m mad at you but ultimately we’re old friends and should be above petty gesture politics anyway”.

In doing so, she takes ownership of the controversy, he having been given his chance to refute the allegation by the moderators during the debate while she was made to stand there and look on.

By not shaking his hand, she leaves him hanging without making cynical melodrama out it, forcing him to stand there like a chump and listen while she speaks. After that, it’s all excuses and consoling gestures from Bernie, very much on the back foot.

A masterful piece of gamesmanship from the Massachusetts senator and one-time scourge of Wall Street.

Who looks good?

Warren – solid jacket.

Who looks bad?

Bernie is clearly outplayed by a pro but Steyer and Buttigieg standing there in the background looking star-struck and irrelevant is a much worse look. Also CNN’s Anderson Cooper commenting on the action has rarely looked redder.

More: Elizabeth Warren gave a defiant response to anyone who thinks women can't win elections

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